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Are you enjoying the Time of Eve?
In the future, probably Japan, robots have become commonplace. Human-like androids are visually indistinguishable from humans except for the holographic status halos--"Rings"--hovering above the androids' heads. Most people accept robots as a part of life, although at least one organization runs an anti-robot media campaign and a popular news item concerns those that have abandoned normal social interactions for the company of obedient androids.
The story begins with a boy, Rikuo, examining the debug logs of his house android. He finds that she has been making unscheduled trips to an unknown location which, for some reason, leaves a cryptic note in the log reading, "Are you enjoying the time of EVE?" Heading to the coordinates in question, the boy and his friend Masaki discover an odd cafe with an odd rule:
Within this establishment, there shall be no distinction between humans and robots.
The Time of Eve was created by Yasuhiro Yoshiura, who previously worked on Pale Cocoon, and released as six web-streamed episodes over the course of 2008 and 2009. An extended film version opened in Japan in March 2010; the official website is here.
As an ONA series with only six episodes, it's still somewhat obscure, which is unfortunate. This series really Needs More Love.
Also released as a feature film (Time of EVE: The Movie) with a new ending and additional scenes linking the 6 episodes. The 6 episodes are streamed on Crunchyroll, and the feature film is available for purchase and rental on the iTunes Store (as of January 2012 in the US, Canada, Australia, NZ, and Japan). Also released as a Bluray and DVD in Japan (with English subtitles).
- AI Is a Crapshoot: Played with. Robots do indeed develop beyond their (apparent) intended purpose, but all they really do is develop emotions, and those seen thus far not only remained "Three Laws"-Compliant, but became genuinely good-natured. Nonetheless, the Ethics Committee gets paranoid about the troubles that emotional robots might cause.
- Artificial Human
- Beneath the Mask: About half of the main characters have to pretend to be emotionless appliances in public.
- Bland-Name Product: Pakka Coffee, among others.
- Blatant Lies: Sammy when she denied visiting the cafe, right after serving Rikuo their coffee.
- Blind Without'Em: Rikuo. He couldn't even recognize Sammy from two feet away.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Androids are expected to behave like appliances, so they do. But they can actually be very emotional in the cafe, where they are free to express themselves.
- Can Not Tell a Lie: Averted. Robots are "Three Laws"-Compliant, but Masaki points out that none of the three laws forbid them from lying to humans.
- Catch Phrase: Chie's "I'm a cat." Also, "Nyaa."
- Caught the Heart on His Sleeve: Attempted but averted in episode 5 by Nagi.
- Creative Sterility: Played with in several instances:
- Even the human-like androids can be quite mechanical in their mannerisms, but they act more unpredictably inside of the cafe.
- Most of Rikuo's prejudice against robots is only due to his musical background. He aspires to be a musician and assumes robots present no threat to that--since robots don't have a soul, how could they comprehend music?--but the release of a robot capable of acting as a convincing pianist shakes him to the core.
- Creator Provincialism: The introduction says "probably Japan", despite all the nuances of a Japanese setting being in full effect, not to mention the fact that every human has a Japanese name.
- Cry Cute: Sammy, in the final episode.
- Dandere: Akiko acts the way robots are expected to in public, but she's very sweet once you get to know her as more than a tool. Actually an inversion of this trope, since her danmari side isn't revealed until later.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: Nagi embraced Katoran as he ceased function.
- Deadpan Snarker: Masaki.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: In an back alley, behind a non-descript door, there's a hidden place where you can be yourself without fear of being ridiculed or
scrappedassaulted. At least until the Ethics Committee crack down on it. And Masaki will go on and on about how he doesn't like robots.
- Emotionless Girl: Sammy and Akiko are completely different people (er, robots) when they're not in the cafe. See Cannot Spit It Out.
- Hair Decorations: Sammy has sported a headband, a scrunchy, and a flower at various points.
- Extreme Doormat: Pretty much robots in general, since they're programmed that way. Especially difficult to watch with Akiko.
- Fantastic Racism: Humans against robots, particularly human-looking androids. A lot of the show's human cast (even the main characters!) show strong anti-robot sentiments, anti-robot propaganda ads are everywhere, and plenty of human owners are shown treating their androids like crap.
- Genki Girl: Akiko talks like an insane chipmunk on speed when she's excited. Which makes her reveal as an unemotional robot who gets treated horribly all the more heart wrenching.
- Gratuitous English: LOGIC CIRCUIT IS ERROR
- Humans Are Bastards: Primarily the Ethics Committee, but many humans have been shown treating their robots very poorly. Made worse by the fact that the robots given character development have been shown to be quite pure and good-natured.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: "[Name]: The [Blank] of Eve".
- Interspecies Romance: Subverted with Koji and Rina, two androids who each believe the other to be human. Played straight by Koji's master, who prefers him to human company.
- Jittercam: Abused to the point of madness.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Katoran remembers what he used to do, but not who he did it for. Justified, since the family he worked for deliberately deleted all his memories that linked him to them, so they could get rid of him without paying the disposal fee.
- Logic Bomb: Rikuo and Masaki spend a good portion of the fourth episode trying to avoid dropping one of these on Katoran.
- Male Gaze: Rikuo is guilty of this a few times in the third episode.
- Mind Screw: Who's a human, and who's a robot? What is Nagi's story? What were those images in the movie while Sammy was home alone looking at the television?
- Mood Whiplash: As the climax of the last episode is wrapping up. THUNK.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: Part of the "Three Laws"-Compliant package, demonstrated by TEX.
- Pick Your Human Half: In public, androids have holographic rings over their heads, act quite unemotional, and tend to only follow commands. But in the Time of Eve cafe it is impossible to tell who is a human and who is an android, and their true personalities are let loose.
- Ridiculously-Human Robots: Less so in the outside world, but inside of the Time of Eve, they all become this. However, there are also several conversations that they (humans and androids) are still not exactly the same, though they can still understand each other.
- Robot Buddy: TEX is clearly suppose to fit this trope, as do the other robots to a degree, and the narrative seems to ask just how much the robots should be expected to fulfill this trope, especially as they get more advanced and aware.
- Robot Girl: Sammy, Akiko
- Robotic Reveal: Done explicitly about three times: Once is a nontraditional kind, when Akiko is shown outside the cafe with her Ring. The second is straight up classic, showing the limb twitching very inhumanly and then showing a wound with circuitry. The third is like the first, but also sort of a copout, as it reshows an earlier scene, except this time he has his Ring, even when it should have clearly been visible in the first showing.
- Robot Maid: Sammy isn't dressed in a maid outfit, but her job as a "houseroid" lands her firmly in this trope.
- Rule Number One: The cafe in question only has the one rule above, which essentially defines the plot of the show.
- Scenery Porn: The film features beautifully drawn backgrounds wherever you look. The cafe is especially ornate.
- Sequel Hook: See The Stinger
- Ship Tease: Sammy/Rikuo and Nagi/Rikuo.
- Shout-Out: To numerous sci-fi works, chief among them Asimov's Robots series. Blade Runner and THX 1138 also get their share of references.
- Episode 3 briefly shows Pale Cocoon playing on the family's home TV.
- Episode 4 features an older-model android equipped with full-color Terminator vision. Its appearance is about as welcome.
- Episode 6 shows "Myst" on a display below the article showing a child's death, as well as the ages - Mechanical, Channelwood, Stoneship, Selentic.
- The original robot story, R.U.R., gets a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shout out in the movie, where it is listed as a type of CPU used in an android.
- Shrinking Violet: Sammy's real personality, which she only shows in the cafe.
- The Speechless: TEX, who is silent due to an order by Masaki's father until the First Law trumps it in the last episode.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: The cafe's resident couple, presumably because one of them is actually a robot. Actually, they're both robots, and both think the other is human.
- The Stinger: After taking Sammy shopping with her, Rikuo's sister puts a Flower in Her Hair. In the movie, a few additional minutes of footage shed light on a few characters, raising a large number of additional questions in the process.
- "Three Laws"-Compliant: As in many stories that feature this trope, it is repeatedly invoked and played with.
- The treatment of the Laws is quite faithful to Asimov's I, Robot, down to the phrases being examined frequently to explain odd robot behavior, always by the same two protagonists.
- Interesting situations result when Three Laws robots are unable to tell the difference between robots and humans.
- Likewise when such robots are ordered to not distinguish between robots and humans (the robots in the story do interpret the sign at the front of the cafe as an order).
- Twenty Minutes Into the Future: Except for the human-like robots (Sammy has 2.4 petabytes of RAM!), nifty graphical interfaces, and more-powerful (gigapixel!) camera phones, things haven't changed too much.
- Uncanny Valley: An in-universe example: robots aren't supposed to be too human like, nor should they be treated as such. At least, that's the social atmosphere.
- Uncanny Valley Girl: Subverted. Rina feels that she is the least "human" of the cafe's regulars, but no one else seems to think so. She's actually proven to be very emotionally complex and sympathetic.
- Viewer-Friendly Interface: The big holographic displays at the center of each of the tables in the cafe.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Masaki's dad orders TEX to never speak because he feels Masaki is getting too close to the robot, traumatizing Masaki for life. Worse, the Ethics Committee's anti-robot activities led to the death of a child (who looks an awful lot like Nagi...).
- It's not specified whether the child died or was only severely injured, and the details of the accident are left largely as a Cryptic Background Reference.
- Most likely she was the girl who was injured in the incident. Said incident is also quite possibly the reason she opened the cafe in the first place.
- What Is This Thing You Call Love?: Koji initially entered a relationship with Rina to learn how to better please his master, who enjoys his "company". He later struggles to understand his own developing feelings for Rina, who is also quite confused.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: A central question of the show. It's not revealed whether some of the characters are human or not.
- You Didn't Ask: In the second episode, Nagi participated in a prank by Chie, holding onto Rikuo's glasses until he came to ask for them, and using this excuse verbatim.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Happens to robots all the time, though most humans don't consider them living to begin with.